Discussion in 'Trials and Errors - Ham Life with an Amateur' started by W7DGJ, Nov 30, 2022.
Harold, thanks for the post. Great addition to the conversation, Dave W7DGJ
I agree, especially with the "Passing the test wasn't supposed to be an indication that we have a sudden expert on our hands." Some people test well, and others simply don't. I am one of those who can test very well. I always had an interest in ham radio, but it took being locked down in 2020 for me to actually take the time to get serious about my license. I had never seen a ham radio test question before March 28, 2020. I found a couple of online study sites, (hamstudy.org and hamexam.org), and studied every question in the Technician, General, and Amateur Extra question pools for 30 days. I lucked into a remote testing opportunity with the GLAARG VEC on April 29, 2020 and passed all three tests with 100% score. For me, it was easy because I was laser focused on the study and I tend to lean toward perfection in everything I do, which is another subject altogether. It also helped that I had a degree in electronics, albeit only an AAS, but I had applied myself the same way in school and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. It is going to boil down to the individual as it has been mentioned in previous replies. In my case, the online study was right up my alley as I am not much of a book person. I need the physical interaction with the computer and keyboard.
However, just because I aced each exam in the single sitting, I certainly was no expert. I spent just over a year of additional study and research, (speaking to long-time hams, reading and watching videos about grounding, antenna theory, etc.), before I got on the air and got my first contact in May 2021. I had finally felt that I gained enough knowledge in ham radio to take this step. I am not naïve in the fact that this was and is only the beginning and I will always be continuing to educate myself in this hobby.
In my opinion, we should embrace the fact that there is still enough interest in earning a license these days. Especially when we see young people earning their license. Everyone will take their own path after that achievement. While I earned my ticket as a no-code ham, which I am sure irritates some of the old timers, my current primary mode of operation is CW. When I was first licensed I had absolutely no interest in CW (Morse Code), but that changed within the first 18 months or so and a couple of hundred CW QSOs later it's my favorite mode of operation. Ham radio operating is a journey with many paths. The path(s) that we take are up to each of us to choose, and if we don't like the path that we've chosen we can always try a different path.
Hey Mike, thanks for the input. Yesterday I was at lunch with a group of hams who range in age from 25 to 85, and we always have a bunch of fun yacking it up. One of the old timers was complaining about my article, and the recommendation that it doesn't hurt to let more people in with a tech license (as long as we can interest them to go further). He was saying that we need to reintroduce CW into the testing and make the tests harder, not easier. Anyway, it does make me feel better to know that some people like you have an interest that even includes CW, especially after you got your license without it. Great accomplishment. Dave
Thank you, Dave. I appreciate your kind comments and enjoy your posts. 73, Mike
I don't usually comment on things in the forums section, but wanted to offer input as someone very new to the hobby. I have been licensed for a little over a year, and happened into the hobby purely by accident.
We wanted to drop our landline, but cell service here is spotty at best, so we wanted a back up means of communication. My OM suggested we get our amateur radio licenses. I reluctantly agreed, so we purchased books from Stu Turner, and used his Ham Radio School website to study for the test. My brain was positively fried by the sheer amount of information and technicality of it, and there were times I was ready to just give up. We took the plunge and purchased a couple of HT's before we were licensed and would listen to the radio traffic. I was intrigued. It was fascinating to listen to the East Coast Reflector and local repeaters. We started supplementing with HamStudy.org, set a date as a goal, and passed our tests.
We immediately joined a couple local clubs, got on nets, and went to our first field day just to see what it was all about. I was hooked! I wanted to get on HF and start learning more about the hobby, we went through the same process again, earning our General a few months later. A local ham became our Elmer, helped us get a used HF, guided us in setting things up, and got us on the air, and THAT set the hook for me! I discovered a world I never knew existed and wanted to know more about it!
As a new ham, I see validity in all of the arguments made about making the tests more difficult, adding CW back in, etc., but there is merit to the testing as it is. If it were more difficult, I don't know if at this point in my life (I am retired, let's leave it at that ), if I would have gone on to earn my General. What the process did for me, was to create a drive to learn more about the hobby. Radio and electronics are not second nature to folks who never really had an involvement with them in their past. For those electrical engineers, etc., out there, it's second nature to them. For people like me, it's like learning a foreign language and it's not always easy. Then again, nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and I understand that. I realize that not everyone is like me, but earning my General ignited a desire in me to want to learn more about radio.
This post is getting long, and I apologize. My point is that radio is an amazing hobby and there are so many "rabbit holes" to go into once you get involved with it. (CW, digital modes, HF, QRP, antenna builds, etc.) If the testing process was harder, I don't know that I would be as involved in radio as I am. I have several friends who will admit they earned their licenses the same way, through studying and memorization, but who like me, are constantly evolving as hams.
I realized early on, that as a ham I will NEVER stop learning. It is part of the process. I don't know anywhere near the information that my Elmer does, and never will. He's been a ham since he was 15, and is in his 80's now. I can only strive to continue to learn and be the best ham I can. I recently passed my Amateur Extra test, but I see this as just the beginning to all that amateur radio has to offer. I love the hobby, and only wish someone would have introduce me to it sooner!
Debby, your post was wonderful! It really bolstered some of the ideas that I had in my column, about the fact that getting more people into the hobby will get them further enthused about radio . . . Just great to read. I am so excited that you posted this. Thanks again and congrats on the Extra Class! Dave, W7DGJ - Just writing you now at your email.
Dave, thank you for your kind comments. I very much appreciate them and your congratulations. I was hesitant to post anything, because in a way I don't feel that I deserve to have my license, because I didn't earn it the hard way meaning, I had the luxury of no CW and practice tests, etc. For me the process was hard, because I knew next to nothing about ham radio going into it. One year later, I know so much more that when I started this journey. I still have much to learn and it is what I love about ham radio. It is always new and interesting!
I want you to ditch the feelings of inadequacy. To help you do that, I want you to ponder a question...
What do they call the person who finished last in class at med school?
The answer is, "Doctor" .
They call them "Doctor".
In the case of ham radio, having your license, (even an extra class license!!), does not translate to your knowing at all. It's an indication that you have the basics down and you're willing to learn. Those two points are an accomplishment in any field of endeavor, and one that you should be proud of.
Here's hoping that you continue to enjoy the ride.
Thanks Eric for an encouraging post that should benefit many readers, Dave
Eric, Thanks for your encouragement! I love the question you responded with, because it did make me see thing in a different way. Your kindness and insight means a lot. Thank you for taking the time to respond.
Please use this forum to discuss our current version #20, of Short Takes, featuring an interview with site founder, Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ.
So many comments, and thats great, so forgive me if I am repeating soething. Thanks for this very interesting article. While it may be none of anyone's business', pardon the pun, the question not asked is just how valuable is QRZ.om, stock market ticker, money-maker, or just still a hobby. Ham radio e-business would be a topic sometime, QRZ, eHam, etc......PSKreporter, how do they stay afloat? Maybe just----how many people subscribe (pay) for QRZ similar to ARRL memberships? Would be a comparison....I'd think QR has 300K paid subscribers worldwide.
Hi Chris, thanks for the suggestion! The website QRZ is privately owned, but your idea about the "value" of commercial Ham websites is interesting. I'm absolutely certain, without a doubt, that the world's premiere Amateur Radio website is QRZ (more hits, page loads, etc) because of its 800K members and the fact that we reload QRZ so often when operating our radios. But the ARRL website has to be busy, as is eHam and others. I don't think there are any public companies that are invested in developing amateur radio websites. Some websites are still hobby locations for their owners, and as Fred says in the interview, it's still a passion project for him. Asking Fred for how many paid subscribers he has seems a bit intrustive to me, so I'll pass. But AA7BQ reads these forums and he can jump in if he'd like. Dave, W7DGJ
I'll point out that the majority of traffic on qrz and for that matter LOTW, are not page loads but automated interfacing with automated loggers and programs like grid tracker.
Judging popularity by Page load is a trend that started back in the early days of blogging. Things have gotten a bit more sophisticated since then
Hi Eric, thanks, and I admit to knowing nothing about how to judge a website's "popularity." Can you think of a busier, more regularly used website than QRZ for the ham? I certainly can't. When I am at my desk on the air, I go to QRZ profile pages time and again . . . I'm sure others do the same. Dave, W7DGJ